‘Tis the season for gatherings with family and friends – and that often means lots of food and drink. But for Colorado families living on a budget, the holiday extravagance can be a financial challenge.
Andrea Rouge, director of Cooking Matters Colorado, says following a few simple tips can help keep holiday budgets in check: Shop with a grocery list, look for meals that combine at least three food groups, and make foods like soups or chili that can take advantage of those soggy stalks of celery left in the vegetable bin.
“Put it into a soup; it’s great for the flavor. No one will know it was on its way out, but it makes the soup taste great.”
Rouge says meal planning is especially important for the nearly 500,000 Coloradans who get food assistance from SNAP, but she adds these tips can help even more well-off families. Meal planning has an additional advantage, she notes: It can help you avoid packing on the pounds during the holiday season.
Rouge says one trick to create affordable and filling meals is to cut back on huge slabs of meat and use more whole grains and vegetables.
“Fresh, frozen or canned, we say, are all good options. With the frozen and canned, you have the opportunity to stretch it among more meals rather than preparing it all at once.”
The holidays should be a colorful time, she adds – especially in the food we prepare.
“You eat with your eyes first. Add a lot of color – that’s a great tip to make people feel like they’re getting something really exciting and tasty and fun for the holidays.”
She suggests recipes such as “Brown Rice and Orange Salad” as one way to have a visually-appealing and healthy meal. That and other recipes are online at www.CookingMatters.org.
Information about the No Kid Hungry campaign is available at www.co.nokidhungry.org.